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Immaculate Day

A narrative of garbage day in an urban alley, with nuns in habits as the protagonists hurling the discarded objects into the truck.

Photo of christine sajecki
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How do you know a thing? An old hat, a busted bicycle, a chair? Sometimes, you must leave it outside in the rain and sun for weeks and weeks. Or look at it upside down against the sky. 

Or launch it. Then launch another thing. Then another!

Watch how it cracks, how it crushes. See how it flutters? Oh my, it shatters. Listen to the pops.

What is that juice? Is it green? Oh boy, is it smelly.

Thank you so much. Come back next week!

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

The intention of this book is to engage with a baby's inherent love of garbage trucks while introducing concepts of the life cycle of materials, the environment, the capability of women (using nuns: true examples of strong working women for thousands of years), and connections between the spiritual, the civic, and the profane. We hope to make both the child and the caregiver laugh, imagine, and create new connections in their minds.

Share your suggested book title

Immaculate Day

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

The narrative will be told the most clearly in the images, while the text will be more of a broader musing. Children are able to draw connections to far reaching solutions at an earlier age and more brilliantly than we thought before (Gopnik). The images will contain many prompts for language for the caregiver, through the objects and the actions, so that anyone may speak in their native language about what they are seeing. More important than learning to read written words is the interaction a book provides between the child and the reader, the care and time, the sound of the voice. (The Beginning Of Life) The text will be simple and fun, vocabulary from Tiers 1 & 2 in an inclusive conversational tone, and support a child's curiosity and need for experimentation. Gopnik also mentions a child's ability to "recognize novelty in the most mundane things." The garbage truck is a perfect example of the obsession kids have with something quite ordinary.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

We live in Baltimore, Maryland, a close neighbor to Philadelphia, with similar vernacular, climate, history, and working class population.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

Garbage pick up is a reality for every urban citizen in the United States. I have always admired sanitation workers, but after having a child, I found myself spending much more time watching the process and getting to know the workers. Nothing made my son happier at 18 months than to watch them work. Talking with other parents, this is very common in very small children, but something they eventually grow out of. We would like to expand on their appreciation and meditate on the importance, sacrifice, strength and service of sanitation workers, as well as introduce people and things they may not see. We also find it important to show that trash does not go away, it just keeps changing.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department


Location: City


Website URL (optional question),

Tell us more about you / your team

I am a professional painter, and a mother of a three year old boy. I have appreciated the potential of children's books to be works of art and literature for the most important audience there is. I recognize their importance in crafting and populating a child's first worldview, and how important that worldview is in creating the next generation of citizens. Joseph Young is a Baltimore writer and artist, known for his poetic microfictions and writing installations. We have collaborated as a team on multidisciplinary events and exhibitions many times throughout our friendship spanning over a decade. With this project, we have been in dialogue about the ideas behind the book for many months, passing the text back and forth, while I am painting the images, finding the right media. The seed came from my son August, inexplicably delighted by both nuns and garbagemen, and combining them in his imaginary. The image was pervasive and begged further exploration.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

The garbage will have a strong sense of color, texture, and pattern, while the environment will be simple and orderly. Readers will see a gradual change in the environment and recall objects from earlier pages as they are collected and transformed in the truck's hopper. One of my biggest inspirations is Leo Lionni and his use of cut and torn paper with painting, his sense of design and whimsy, and his nuanced and non-traditional storylines.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

SAJECKI (Illustration): The Gilded Auction Block by Shane McCrae, Farrar Straus and Giroux; Amanda by Amanda McCormick, Ink Press Productions (Cover) Washington Square Review, Summer/Fall. NYU Creative Writing Program; Forgiveness, Forgiveness by Shane McCrae, Factory Hollow; YOUNG (writer): Lamination Colony, SmokeLong, Mississippi Review Online, Exquisite Corpse, wigleaf, Blue Moon Review, FRiGG, Eleven Bulls, Hobart, Opium, Alice Blue, Juked, NOO, Pindeldyboz, Marco Polo, JMWW

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Dawnnbooks .

No matter how young a child is they are never too young to be introduced to all sorts of concepts.
This story is unique among the submissions in that it address Solid Waste Management a perennial problem in cities.
Nicely done.